Diamond Islands

Diamond Islands is a game from , originally released 31st December, 1969

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Diamond Islands Hands-On

Funny thing about primitive islanders–they just love to roll giant objects around, whether they’re big stone heads, massive coins, or gargantuan rectangular totems. The islanders in Digital Chocolate’s Diamond Islands, which just hit the App Store for $4.99, are expert totem-rollers, but they don’t necessarily know how to get them from point A to point B. That’s where you come in.

The totem starts standing on its end, and it needs to end up the same way in the certain spot across the level. You direct your islanders to flip the totem end over end by swiping at the screen; they can also roll it along like a log if it’s laying flat on the ground.

The puzzling bit of the equation lies in the game’s 100 levels, which are designed such that you can’t just roll the totem right up and be done with it; you might end up right next to the target space, without enough room to make that one last flip. There are also standard puzzle game elements to up the difficulty, such as bonus diamonds to collect, switches to hit, and different types of surfaces to traverse.

We played the heck out of this game when it came out on mobile phones a year or two ago, and our initial impression of the iPhone version is favorable–the swipe controls are very intuitive, and the presentation is solid. Have a look at the Flash version of the game for a demo. We’ll have our own video up later today.

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Diamond Islands Review

Diamond Islands is based on a simple premise that becomes unwieldy over the course of 100 levels. You control a crew of idol worshippers who venture across a series of diamond-strewn archipelagos, repeatedly moving an awkwardly-shaped tiki statue from one end of an island to the other.

This is more of a challenge than it might seem at first, because the tiki is twice as tall as it is wide, and can only be tipped end-over-end or rolled lengthwise. As a result, it can be tricky to maneuver around the strangely-shaped islands. They are full of inconvenient right angles and narrow strips of beach.

Despite the unique mechanics, the experience ends up becoming frustrating rather than fun. It almost feels like the entire game is based on the unpleasant experience of moving a huge couch through a small apartment– you are constantly pushing, backing up into a corner, and then having to back up and try from a different angle.

The obstacles that are introduced later in the game don’t add enough variety. Patches of mud will slide your tiki further than you want it to go, and non-load-bearing docks will prevent you from setting the tiki upright. Principally, your strategies for overcoming these obstacles will remain the same, and the repetitive nature of the level design means you’ll probably grow tired of the tasks.

The lush island levels are colorful, but their grid-based patterns lend an unnatural look. A greater variety of environments or some different types of gameplay would make lugging these worshippers’ tiki around a lot more bearable. However, some obsessive puzzle fans may really take to the “moving day” concept and happily carry that weight along all 100 levels. Check out the free version for a few minutes of fun, but skip the full version unless you’re a puzzle-pushing heavyweight.